Friday, July 8, 2011

On This Day, July 8th: NBA Lockout Day 8


Here's an article by Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune on the 30 men who tried out for Team USA to compete in Greece for the World Championships.:

CHICAGO - Some basketball analysts have suggested the United States is so dominant in basketball that a team of NBA rejects, minor-leaguers and professional hopefuls could beat the best of the rest of the world.

The world will find out next month. USA Basketball announced Tuesday the 30 players who will try out for the 12 spots on the USA team that will compete in the World Championships of Basketball in Athens, Greece, starting later this month.

The group - consisting of 12 Continental Basketball Association players, six collegians and nine former NBA players who have been competing overseas and three who have played in the CBA and overseas - begins tryouts and training camp today at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.

It includes several familiar names: former DePaul star David Booth, former University of Illinois point guard Kiwane Garris and former NBA players David Wood, Larry Stewart, Gerald Madkins, Tim Kempton and Acie Earl.

Others trying out include 5-foot 5-inch Eastern Michigan guard Earl Boykins, CBA MVP Jimmy King of Michigan's Fab Five, Big Ten Player of the Year Mateen Cleaves of Michigan State and Duke guard Trajan Langdon.

``We feel confident that out of this group we can and will field a very competitive team, a team that will go out and try to win the world championship,'' said coach Rudy Tomjanovich, who also coaches the Houston Rockets.

The players are in line to represent the United States in place of a team of NBA players who had signed contracts to play for America but backed out because of the labor dispute between the league and the players' union.

That group was to include Seattle SuperSonics forward Vin Baker, Sacramento Kings forward Chris Webber, Detroit Pistons forward Grant Hill, Milwaukee Bucks guard Terrell Brandon, Minnesota Timberwolves forwards Kevin Garnett and Tom Gugliotta, San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan, Miami Heat guard Tim Hardaway, Seattle SuperSonics guard Gary Payton, Charlotte Hornets guard/forward Glen Rice, New York Knicks guard Allan Houston and Atlanta Hawks forward Christian Laettner.

The players' union prevailed on the 12 players to boycott the World Championships in hopes of embarrassing the NBA, one of the sponsors of USA Basketball.

Because the NBA has used Olympic and World Championship teams as major marketing vehicles overseas since 1992, the players' union believed it would hurt the NBA with a boycott and perhaps speed a settlement.

The substitute players likely will not embarrass the United States. Some highly talented players are trying out, and the eventual team will be capable of winning the gold medal, which means an automatic qualifier for the 2000 Olympics.

USA Basketball had no luck recruiting NBA players (Jayson Williams), former players (Dominique Williams, Byron Scott) and about-to-retire players (Derek Harper), who were told they would be viewed as ``scabs'' by the current players if they didn't honor the boycott.

If you read my piece from a few days ago, you know how The Dirty Dozen managed to get a bronze medal in that tournament. Given the list of players that dropped out because of the Lockout, you know that Team USA easily would have steamrolled to the gold medal. Would have been cool to see Earl Boykins out there. 

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